The world told Afghan women it had their backs, says Ruth Pollard in Bloomberg. “It doesn’t.” A generation of women who had taken their place in society “are now watching that space shrink before their eyes”. They entered life as lawmakers, local governors, doctors and teachers, working for two decades to create a civil society. Now the Taliban is going door to door in some areas, “compiling lists of women and girls aged between 12 and 45 for their fighters to forcibly marry”. Schools and colleges are being forced to shut; businesses are being destroyed. Women are again being told they cannot work, study, dress as they please “or leave the house without a male escort”.
Does the West really plan to talk to the Taliban as if it isn’t murdering women and children? In 2001 George W Bush’s wife, Laura, said: “The fight against terrorism is also the fight for the rights and dignity of women.” Where is the West now? Civilian deaths are up 50%, and more women and children were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in any year since records began in 2009. Unless the international community acts, the US and its allies “will have made martyrs of the very women and children they had promised to protect”.